Most people have only basic ideas about pairing wine with food. We are all aware that, generally, red wines go best with red meat and white wines go best with fish. However, as always there is a bit more to it than that. And what if we limit ourselves to the greatest of white wines the Chardonnay?
I have already detailed the surprising pairings of Chardonnay and cheese here, concluding that a white wine is much easier to pair with a variety of cheeses than reds. Consequently I will leave that part out of here.
Combining wine and food is an art, but an art that is easy to learn. Every human being can taste and flavour can be developed. And this is an art that one learns in the most enjoyable way! After all, if anywhere at all, it does apply here: one learns by doing. Only by consciously taste you get to know the possibilities, and one also gets to know the taste. Nothing is as personal as taste and it should always be the own taste which has the final say. You drink wine for pleasure. I have explained how to taste wine here.
Chardonnay produces a wide range of flavours, depending on the climate in which the grape grows. The colder the climate, the tighter the aromas and the higher the acidity: green apple, unripe pear and white flowers. Chablis and champagne here are the classic examples. In slightly warmer climates like that of Burgundy the aromas are somewhat more mature and broader like citrus and ripe apple. In hot climates like California, Australia and Chile (all located closer to the equator than, say, Burgundy) Chardonnay gives very mature, sometimes sultry aromas of tropical fruit such as mango, passion fruit and lime. The acidity is lowest here.
How to find a suitable combination of wine and food?
I will give you some tips to get started on Chardonnay food pairing.
Step 1: Basic ingredients
Basic ingredients refer to the main part of the meal, which could be meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or vegetables. These components represent the main part, and are often the basis for the choice of the wine, although very successful combinations can be achieved by using remaining ingredients.
For Chardonnay wines these are:
Crab, shrimp, clams, coquille, lobster, halibut, sea bass, monk fish, snapper, trout, swordfish, salmon, tuna, chicken, turkey, pheasant, goose, veal, pork.
Step 2: Additions
The additives help to give the food a better connection with the wine by the interaction in taste, body, or basic taste intensity.
For Chardonnay wines these are:
Citrus: orange, lime, lemon, citrus peel; pear; apple; fennel (roasted); corn; avocado; pumpkin; coconut, coconut milk; polenta; herbs: tarragon, basil, thyme; spices: nutmeg, curry powder, ginger, saffron; roasted nuts: hazelnuts, pine nuts, cashew nuts, almond; olive oil; butter; cream, milk, sour cream; mushrooms: shitake, oyster mushrooms, canter up; bacon, pancetta; sweet onions; roasted garlic; mustard; tropical fruits: mango, papaya, pineapple.
Tips for a successful combination with Chardonnay
Regarding most Chardonnay wines, it is desirable that the dishes have a certain richness to underline the rich, creamy mouth-filling taste of wine.
Spicy dishes with chilli strengthen the alcohol and the wood flavour of most Chardonnay wines and are thus not the best combination.
Besides a large variety of appetizers, rich seafood, shellfish and poultry, Chardonnay goes well with many veal and pork dishes especially if simply prepared so that the wine does not have to compete with complex flavours of the dish. See here 4 recipes for cooking chicken in white wine sauce.
Sequence of wines
If you would pair various wines to various dishes, please note that there are some classic rules for the sequence of drinking certain wines, which have become useful throughout the years. White goes before red, light before heavy, young before old, dry before sweet, simple wine before better ones. Everyone who uses his common sense will endorse these rules.
With its wide range of aroma’s, from sleek cool climate keys to rich tropical fruit, Chardonnay can be paired with a very wide range of dishes. Chardonnay is particularly delicious in dishes such as ham, veal, pasta, chicken and turkey. The best fit is with roasted chicken or other white meat. Chardonnay from cooler climates such as Chablis goes well with simple fish or seafood dishes. Top Burgundy and the full, rich Chardonnays from the New World are can be paired to rich seafood dishes, often with a cream or butter sauce. Smoked fish is also suited, which asks for the very good smokiness of wood fermented Chardonnay, and dishes where garlic plays the main role are suited. Also lightly spicy oriental dishes with coconut can be a good match.
I have now reviewed and rated a number of the world’s best Chardonnays, which you will have access to through this site. To the right (for mobile users just under this text) you can see three images under the heading world best Chardonnays for various markets: USA, UK and Australia. Click the images to go to the summary list of reviews for your area.
I hope that this will help you choosing the right (white)wine for the right dishes. I would sure welcome any comments and/or questions, which I will reply to within 24 hours.